Good for this jury, which rejected the idea that the officers should have compromised their own safety, so as to allow these Somali suspects to go alone into another room to put on hijabs. They were arguing that cultural considerations should trump the value of a police officer’s life.
“Jury rejects Somali family’s civil-rights claims over failed drug bust,” by Mike Carter for the Seattle Times, November 17 (thanks to Phil for the link and the observations above):
A federal jury in Seattle has rejected claims by a Somali family that their rights were violated when armed narcotics officers entered their home without announcing themselves during a 2006 federal crackdown on the illegal stimulant called “khat.”
Ali Dualeh, his wife and their five children were taken into federal custody by members of the Valley Narcotics Task Force, under the supervision of the Drug Enforcement Administration, as part of a national crackdown called Operation Somali Express.
Dualeh was never convicted of a crime….
Dualeh had initially claimed that officers roughed him up and pointed firearms at his wife and young children — the oldest was 8 at the time during the raid at their Kent home. His wife claimed that she was forced to remain in the presence of the officers without wearing a head scarf, in violation of her Muslim beliefs.
Most of those allegations were dismissed or thrown out by U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly before trial.
The sole issue to make it to the jury involved allegations that the officers violated the requirement that they “knock and announce” themselves before entering the home, in keeping with the Fourth Amendment’s protections against illegal searches and seizures.
But the officers claimed that the search team was compromised as they moved across an apartment parking lot when they were seen by someone in an upstairs window. As a result, they said concerns for officer safety and evidence protection justified their breaking into the apartment without first announcing themselves.
The jury deliberated 90 minutes before finding in favor of the officers Tuesday following a three-day trial.
Earlier this year, the federal government paid another Somali woman, Habibo Jama, $40,000 to settle her claim that officers ignored her pleas to allow her to cover herself during another “Operation Somali Express” raid at her home.
In hindsight, federal law-enforcement officials have acknowledged that the raids were ill-conceived and alienated the U.S. Somali community, which has been targeted for recruiting by Islamic militants.
The U.S. Somali community, meanwhile, doesn’t seem concerned about having alienated law-enforcement officials.